5 Movies That Shaped LGBTQ+ Culture

Modern LGBTQ+ media is more inclusive than ever, even if some stereotypes of the past still haunt the brains of screenwriters for film and TV. But hey, it’s time to walk down memory lane and remember some of the more iconic films that shaped present-day LGBTQ+ culture, either by trailblazing media with their romantic storylines, or by accurately depicting LGBTQ+ rights movement events on-screen.

Here are some of our picks:

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Known by the memes as the “gay cowboy movie”, Brokeback Mountain chronicles the lives of two cowboys hired for sheep-herding. They slowly fall in love with each other, then separate, then come back together to the picturesque mountain where they once met, both married with children and still very much desiring each other. 

The movie intermingles pain and love, masterfully portraying the pain of having to love each other while hiding their relationship for 20 years. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, this poetic saga of lust and denial won once-retired director Ang Lee his first Academy Award for ‘Best Director’ in 2006, being the first LGBTQ+ movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

But as we’ll see, this one was not the last to make it there.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)

This movie tells the story of how Marsha arrived in the Village in the 1960s, where she teamed up with Sylvia Rivera, and both of them claimed their identities as “drag queens”. But the movie proper centers itself around the investigation of activist Victoria Cruz about Johnson’s death in 1992. The documentary is a must-watch for anyone who wants to learn about the following years of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, for it describes in painfully accurate detail the struggles of trans people at the time, and what led to the start of their fight for civil rights. You can watch it on Netflix.

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

“Is it better to speak or die?”

A summer love movie filled with tension, angst, and small, intimate gestures instead of a grand romantic scene like most straight rom-coms, this movie focused on realism and did away with the tragic gimmicks that made boy meets boy films from the past so depressing. No one gets cancer in the second act or dies to a hate crime, and there aren’t any homophobic parents raging against the romantic leads’ clandestine escapades.

The only thing stopping Elio and Oliver from falling in love is themselves, which is why the film hits so hard for many LGBTQ+ people. Also, the film’s soundtrack is fantastic – not a single scene goes by with a perfectly corresponding tune setting the emotional mood for it.

Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight is the LBGTQ+ coming-of-age film par excellence. Chiron Harris, played by Trevante Rhodes, is shown through three vignettes of his life: as a child, as a teenager, and as an adult, navigating the murky, and sometimes misleading waters of sexuality and identity. Furthermore, it’s a good representation of what it means to be both queer and Black. Its excellent screenplay and direction is what earned it the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars.

Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria (2005)

For decades, the true story of Compton’s Cafeteria was lost to history. Almost no one knew of the Rosa Parks-esque way where courageous drag queen Rusty, played by Shane Zaldivar, fought back against the constantly meddling police with a cup of hot coffee. Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, aims to set the record straight as a documentary retelling the smaller queer rebellions that led to the Stonewall Riots in New York, 1969.

Agree with our choices? Why not chime in with a comment on your favorite LGBTQ+ film? That way we can add it to our next list. 

Thanks for reading.

By: Sebastian Calderon

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